The First Step To Create Change: Identify

Over the coming weeks, I will be diving into my Five Steps to Create Change. These steps serve as a foundation for anyone who is looking to create impact on an issue that they are passionate about. They are what I have observed and researched throughout my 15 years of working with change agents nationwide.

I’m not claiming to have discovered the holy grail of creating change – far from it. The reason why I’m sharing these steps is because I’ve had people ask me how they can take action on their issue, but need a starting point in doing so. This process is designed to guide people to create change in a format that is easy to follow, yet still impactful.

So, let’s start at the natural starting point: Step 1: Identify.

This seems like the logical first step, right? You can sense that there is something you want to take on, but you don’t know all the ins and outs surrounding it quite yet. That’s why working to identify all aspects of it are critical, and must be done at the very beginning.

I say that with this note – just like the rest of these steps, you will continually revisit the Identify stage. Why? We live in an ever-changing world; which means what we observe today may be very different days, weeks, or months in the future. These steps are designed to be cyclical so that you can adjust as needed.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into what you should be identifying during this stage of your change making crusade.

The Problem

All social change focuses on fixing some sort of problem. That problem can be any size or affect any group of people, but it is still a problem that needs addressing. You probably already have a general idea of what problem you want to attack, but you need to look beyond just the surface of that problem. What is the root of it? What is its history? Why is it a problem that hasn’t been successfully changed yet? Those are the questions you need to ask when evaluating the problem you want to solve.

The Solution

After doing as much research as you can on the problem you want to change, you need to begin forming what your solution will be. If you’ve done your homework right in evaluating the problem, you should have already come across some examples of ways people have tried changing it in the past. What kind of success and failures did those attempts have? Don’t reinvent the wheel – make it better. Utilize the lessons from those who tackled this problem before to make your efforts that much better. If this is a new problem that hasn’t been addressed before, then research similar issues that have and see what similarities exist.

The Plan

This part is critical, because without a plan your efforts will be futile. Begin to figure out a basic strategy and goals to implement in order to make progress. You need to also figure out who your potential allies and opponents are so you know who to approach early. Reach out to those allies and others who you think will want to help you in your mission – you’d be surprised to see who will support you and join the effort.

Creating change isn’t easy – it takes a lot of hard work, passion, and tenacity. If you are looking for more help on your project – like training or consulting – please feel free to contact me to see how I can be of service.

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About the Author

Joe Scarfone

Joe is a speaker and youth empowerment expert with over 15 years of experience in working with youth and adults who want to make an impact. Based in Raleigh, NC, he travels the country to help others create change in their communities. Learn more at